Getting some Zzzz’s


I had someone I was working with for a private mediation class.  He and his wife sat with me and they both were new to meditation.   We sat and started off being still with the eyes open or shut, as I give them their choice, and watch the breath.  In about 30 seconds he started breathing so deep that I could tell he was sleeping.  Sitting up!

As we talked he started telling me he doesn’t have a problem sleeping.  Just staying there. I laughed and told him I could already tell.

I had another student ask me for help sleeping.  It is common these days to have this question pop up.   Either people have a problem getting to sleep or remaining there.  There was an article recently that said people who wake up between the hours of 2 and 4 are considered very smart!  Ok – stop trying to make it sound like this is cool.  Because most of us are very sleep deprived.  We need to learn to listen to what our bodies are telling us.

As I sit with those who are having problems sleeping, I ask them about their habits.  Many sleep with their electronics around them.  Ready to read that all important news flash – look who one Dancing With the Stars!

I offer to them to listen.   Listen because you already do know the answer.   Put it away.  Move it across the room.  Leave it outside the bedroom.  Find ways that you can make change happen.  Then I get excuses.  What if there is an emergency?

I would like to introduce you to the sleep mode on your smart phones.  Most have it.  The option to stop signals from a certain time. Even block calls.   Even the ability to pick which calls are allowed to call you and wake you.  So you no longer have to live with that annoying solicitation call waking you up early Saturday morning.  You are in charge – you pick when you want to be interrupted.

Now though that you are in-charge are you ready to take the challenge?  It is one – because you can’t continue blaming the apps and tools.   All these things out there to make us happier or give us more time.  Yet does it really?  Or is this something deeper – from within?

I have a rule that my phone, computer and TV are off by 10pm and if really tired even earlier.  I tell my family “I hope that if there really is an emergency you know to dial 911”.  Funny thing is I started putting my phone away years ago.  Also I also don’t have my settings to give me news updates as they occur.  I pick when I want to see the news.  I can go days without it.  I find if really big news – someone is bound to tell me. So over stimulation of our mind- we have to decide when to turn it on or off.

The Happiness starts from within.  I heard a great statement along this line:  “Some doors only open from the inside.”  That is you making the decision to find your open door within. Choice is yours.

Now – go try sleeping UN-like a baby.  All night long.  Feels so good!


#Sleep #sleeping #stress #PTSD #happiness #tools #tips #suggestions

Nobody said it was easy


So ever since my VAD and stroke years ago I ended up going down the road of many other symptoms and then you are told “here – take this”.  I did that for a bit and managed to stop all.  Except one.

I would have raging heartburn.  All day.  Nothing I did helped.  I talked to my doctor.  Suggestions of various over the counter medication.  I did some but got little relief.  Then I found “the purple pill” Nexium.   It finally helped.  I could go on with my life again!  Yeah.

So for 4 years now I would take it at bedtime.   Just what my routine was.  When I tried to stop taking it, even for a day, the heartburn would return.  I tried cold turkey again back in early April.   As I started investigating more though I found that coming off drugs like this is very hard.  Don’t do it cold turkey.

So I started doing every other day.  Then go longer.  Examining my diet and making my food bigger at lunch and very light at dinner.  I also started seeing that the pain I was having wasn’t really at my chest or heartburn.  Instead it is a sharp stabbing pain  just underneath the ribs.   I have known about the helpful effects of apple cider vinegar but couldn’t think about taking it.   So I found tablets.  I often take these at night.

However in trying to stop, I found the pain to be really bad one day and I remembered learning that mustard helps in a pinch because it has vinegar.  So I got a spoon and swallowed the mustard.  Ugh!  But wait – in about 10 seconds the pain was gone.

Then I got some organic apple cider vinegar.  Now when the pain happens I take that.  Straight up.  I know that many suggest put it in water but I just prefer to get it over and then sip water after.  5 weeks later and I went the longest day without Nexium the other day.  However the pain still happens.   Especially teaching I’ve had to be careful – going upside down is sometimes something that triggers it.

I wish more of us and especially doctors knew about it.  Instead of just suggesting the medicine there should be a time limit and help from the medical field at coming off.  From what I am learning my body has grown used to this drug and the effects I’m having has more to do with coming off it than the heartburn I had coming onto it.

I definitely know I’m still in charge and responsible but I do with more people out there knew more about it.  Facebook groups I’m on for my VAD condition show that many have the same problem.  So many asking the same question – what may help?

From what I have been reading this could still take me months of pain and doing the natural remedies to help before I can see a difference.  So far though I do see some small changes.  So I wanted to post this to just inform others.  The heartburn medication was never meant to be a long term solution.

I am doing other things too.  Diet change – knowing what triggers it – which is almost everything!  Kiefer probiotic.   Ginger tea (love).

Thanks to so many who I have shared this with already.  Times where the pain has been so bad and I couldn’t teach.   I wasn’t ready to go public with this but now I am ready.  I’ll post more on the progress.

Where do you notice the healing?


I often start my yoga classes asking for any requests or areas of focus.  Just to get an idea of where people are.   I was doing a training recently for working with firefighters and PTSD.   I do teach in group studios but also with those in rehabs as well in corporate spaces.  The training suggested to ask ‘where do you notice any healing happening’ and I like this a lot.  I think we can focus on the glass half empty too much.  Often people are quick to tell me about the areas bothering them only, which I do need to know for sure.  But when we hyper focus in on the painful area only, that is when we start to feel that is all we are.

So I’m going to start asking this question and how it helps.  I have also found myself doing less focus on specific areas of the body.  Fact is it has always bothered me to think  of a pose as a hip, shoulder or other body part.  We are using it all.  Instead of telling the student where to focus I want to encourage them to feel it.  Notice it.  Where do you feel the healing happening?  “If you aren’t using your whole body here – ask yourself why not”.

I am seeing that so many people come to yoga but really aren’t engaging everything.  So their habit is just supported by pushing into the same area they are familiar with.  Often using one side of the body more than the other; letting the joint support all the weight.  Once I can get them to pause, move slowly and use their muscles all over their body they seem to understand themselves more.

But at the same time I hate too focus so much just on the mechanics.  There is a magic that is there that is lost when all we do is focus on what we can see.  Feeling the living breathing pose.  Feeling it just as it is right now – imperfect and lovely!

May you spend some time today enjoying just where you are right now in the present moment.  Feel where the healing is within you.

Stillness reveals


So many new things happening here in America and with it so many groups and parties out demonstrating, yelling, marching and posting up their views.  I love this freedom we have here in America; because historically mankind has often been killed for demonstrating different views.  When we can demonstrate peacefully it is amazing.

So last month I went to the Woman’s March.  I walked alone in silence to witness, listen and watch.  I’m glad I did.  So many came to DC from parts all around the world.  I listened to them share their stories about their travels to their friends.  One group spent all night driving there and had just arrived about 2 hours before.  They were tired but ready to march. I watched people scream with laughter to find their friends and hug them.  Many police and military there seemed to share in the day and many thanked them for their service.

It was crowded and many parts of the mall still had large gates to keep the traffic from going into the street so that meant pedestrian congestion as we tried to form a line to walk out of the exit.  Here we are in a peaceful loving protest but many were pushing and wanting to rush to get ahead of others.  Human nature; we miss the little things all the time.

Which is why I remained in silence.  When we do so we can listen more but also we aren’t busy thinking up our responses either.  We aren’t playing out the story in our mind that we want to say back.   We are just holding space to listen.

I sat under a tree and listened to the speakers.  Many spoke with such anger and insults to strike back because they are hurting.  I also heard one group next to me busy talking about all about how awful “the Republicans” are.  On and on with the blame.  If only it was that easy.

We like to group things and push it away because it makes it easy for us to deal with.  Yet we forget the facts.  Fact is many democrats voted for Trump and many Republicans didn’t.  I walked past the Trump Hotel where many wanted to take selfies of them flipping off the hotel.  Some of the staff of the hotel were out front helping to valet and get cabs for the guests of the hotel.  I watched people yell at the hotel staff for working there.

However past the anger and fear what I remember for the most part was a lot of strangers together who put aside their differences – even if they didn’t know it.  They may not have realized different parties, types and genders were there but they were.   I saw groups from health care, schools, States and organizations, and Men who walked to share kindness with each other.

Nonviolence is hard.  Mahatma Gandhi and Dr King talked about nonviolence much.  Just when you think you are acting in nonviolence you have to examine your action.  If the act causes harm, even to those you dislike, it is violent.  One harmful act, no matter if you felt they deserved it, does not mean it is justified.

As I was leaving the march Mr Trump was coming back to the White House and we had to stop for a while and wait for security to pass.  As he passed many yelled, made gestures and names to his car.  Being in silence it allowed me to be still – no response was required.  Was quite amazing to watch and see that I don’t have to agree with the White House but all the name calling and anger isn’t going to help me either.   I simply moved on and was quite calm and peaceful.

In Yoga and Meditation we learn to witness our responses.  Why?  First off because it is human nature to have our responses but if I learn to pause for a moment I may be able to hold back from doing something I regret.  Harm.   All the anger isn’t helping and often you are hurting yourself with it.  You’ve tried screaming, yelling and mean gestures and did that let go of the pain?  Did it make you feel better?  Did it solve the problem?   Isn’t it time to consider something else?

Now for those ready to respond and tell me about marches and protests that made change, please understand that is not what I’m talking about.  It isn’t “What” it is “HOW” you do the action.  I suggest you go back to an ancient book called the Gita and read it.   We can go into battle but it is our action, how we Yoke, that makes our intensions healing or harmful.

We often live in our thoughts and with that comes our first instinct to respond.  Do it long enough and you really start to believe that is all there is.  It is times like this when you will have to seek out positive people, consume good energy and stories to balance out your thoughts.  It can be in the little things.  I was sitting outside about a block from the White House last week and enjoying the sun.  I stranger walked by saying “You look peaceful”.  We struck up a conversation and I’m so glad we did.  We talked about Meditation and how he has started a company to help the kids in the schools. He was taking action to do something.  I may never see him again but it is the moment to moment experiences in your day that you have to look out for.  Don’t let something like that just pass you by because you are busy reading the news.


Bridging the Transition


Transition is so hard.  We often have strong reactions to transition.  We will drift into our fantasy or stories about the past or dream about the future.  Having hopes or wishes is not a bad thing however it important to notice when we do too much mental analysis.  Often we spend too much time in our thoughts.

When faced with transition we will respond.  Either push it away or deny it; would rather hold onto what I had or have right now.  Resist that it is changing.  Or we can’t wait for it to change.  Ready for the future right now.  Think about it over and over.  But when the moment comes we aren’t really there.  We are still ahead of ourselves.  Or worst yet we get to that goal and still blame, judge or have an excuse.  Another common response is to be indifferent.  Bored in other words.  We check out of now and start to develop a mental task list of something we think is important. “I have to remember to get the milk”.   We are more than our thoughts though.

Now saying this and recognizing it is really hard.  If it was easy everyone would be doing it.  It isn’t important to stop our responses though.  Many of you know I teach a specific meditation called Mindfulness.  However many I’m finding really don’t know the difference with this compared to other Meditation practices.  First of all, there are many styles of Meditation.  Think of it like dating.  There are many styles and one may not fit all.   My preferences can change as well.

So let me briefly explain Mindfulness.  Mindfulness is not set on relaxing or destressing.  Yes it may do this but it also many not.  Instead of tuning out – we turn in.  By turning directly into now we may take notice of our reactions and pause.  See exactly what is there right then.  Sometimes what is there is not always peaceful or calming.  So you want to make sure that you do this safely.  If you have had a trauma find an experienced teacher.  A video or phone app won’t be able to watch and help you safely.

So why practice Mindfulness?

Sometimes by seeing what is there we can strip away some of its power. A common way I do this is just in daily life.  For example take me in busy Washington, DC traffic.  Here I am driving in heavy traffic.  Suddenly there is a stop.  I can see for miles break lights and stopped traffic.  “What is going on?  Why have we stopped?  I wonder how long this will take.  Will I be late now?”  As I pause I can start to feel my chest and my breath shorten.  I reach for the radio to catch the traffic report.  It reports nothing.  “Of course”.  “I wonder which lane I should be in that will move faster.  Maybe I should get out of this lane.”  Now I have to deal with what is here, which has human nature all around me.  The cars that also have drivers that are upset; so they honk, try to cut in and out and some start to smoke a cigarette in hope that it will calm down. Everyone caring only about themselves.  “I have someplace I have to be”.  “I should have taken a different route” I think to myself.  “I should have left earlier”.  When I use the word Should I call it “Shoulding all over myself”.  It has become my word to stop and notice.  Sure it is helpful to set goals and notice – maybe next time do something different. However life will always toss things at me that I can’t avoid.  So sometimes I have to see it and be with right now.  Just as it is.  It is a hard place sometimes to be.

So when I let go of the reactions, even of fixing or resolving here is what happens…. I go past my intial reactions.  What can I do right now?  Lets see.  I turn off the radio. Look up at the sky.  “It is an amazing day”.  “I’m so glad I have a cozy car to sit in.”  “You know if you are late, others will be late too.  There is nothing you can do about it – simply call management and let them know.”  However not all my reactions will be stress releasing.  Sometimes I drift into worry again.  “I hope we move soon because I have to use a restroom.”  “I really wish the person in front of me would move and get off their phone”. “What does that bumper sticker say?”  Finally I get past the accident.  “I hope everyone is alright”.  Then I move on.  Of course often that is to the next traffic problem.  Then I have to repeat.

Sometimes viewing around me doesn’t help though to steady my thoughts.  So I let out a big breath or big scream.  Yes you heard me – scream.  I let it go. Also sounds help me to release.  Feels so good and then I start laughing.  Deep inside there are places this starts to help including the tightening of my legs, stomach and intestines.  If I’m lucky my sister will be around and I can call her.  Laugh and remind myself that I’m just this little spec and the universe is so large.  There is more than my traffic problems.  If she isn’t around maybe I can find a song that makes me feel happy and sing to that.

Now I get that not everyone practices Mindfulness but what I described can be done by everyone. It doesn’t mean I am perfect and walk around all day thinking about peace and love.  But with practice I can shorten the times of anger and fear and lengthen my experience with healthy good feelings; which impacts my wellness.

So here we are in the US right now going through the shift of power as our US President is changing. Big transition is happening.  Some are happy about it, others not at all and others are indifferent.  That is reactions.

In my case I don’t quite like it.  I want to hold onto what we have right now.  I don’t understand how we got here and sometimes I’m off worried about what will happen later.  I see it, but  I also don’t have to spend all my time in my head or thoughts. I also don’t need to watch the news all the time.  My reactions are what I’m responsible for.

I will be at the Woman’s March this Saturday and I’m sure many will have various reasons for being there.  Mine are to walk in silence to witness the day.  Also silence is quite an amazing experience to have.  If have never done a silent retreat or day of silence try it.

This Saturday I’m planning on taking in the day, notice all the love and sisterhood/brotherhood around me.  I won’t be worried about my phone or social media to capture the moment.  I will be in the moment.  I also find when around a lot of noise and people that being still or silent helps me deal with the stimulation.

I’m hoping that for Saturday we can come together, with all of our differences and demonstrate that each of us are in-charge.  Each can make change happen.  The person in the White House is working for us as well as those in other elected positions. So my intension for demonstration is not out of fear or anger but with love and compassion.  With less resistance to transition or change maybe we can let go of the pain that has reared itself physically within; ie shallow breath, tight chest, lack of sleep or short temperedness.

Maybe we can just let that shit go …. or more importantly let that IN.

A very full year 2016


This was a very full year; full of ups and downs for sure. I had a number of people close to me pass away unexpectedly.  A number of yoga studios close.  One studio closed and wasn’t able to pay me for two months of work so I spent months working extra just to catch up.  Yet the closings opened up some new areas.  I found myself in teacher training on Yoga Nidra and thinking about paths I want to take for 2017.  I finally made it to Yogaville and had an amazing time on retreat there. Of course there was also the disappointment with our Presidential Elections.  Still I have found myself in the healing business and that there are many who need help now more than ever so I’m glad to be able to help.

I finished teaching at some places this past week that I will not be continuing in 2017.   I have new opportunities and it was tough at first to explore them.  I had to let go of where I was to let myself take on something new. Practicing unattachment meant not simply holding onto a class just because I like the students there.   Still it was sad saying good-bye.  I feel I’m relaxing more into the change that happens with my schedule; even more when you have a job like mine.  Each week changes and when I started this journey teaching full time just last year, I kept thinking it would become regular but I really don’t think that is meant happen.  So I just let go of that way of holding onto the hope that it would.

Instead it has been good to remember that I practice yoga with the same idea in mind.  I can live in the fantasy that it will be something someday or I can just be right here.  Truly in the moment.  I found myself just enjoying some of the last classes this past week and knowing that so many shared with me their feedback on how I helped them this year.

Often when I teach I won’t know everyones journey so it was nice to hear how the practice helped them.  One shared with me that her Father died earlier this year and she didn’t want to come to work to talk about it.  She shared that there were days she was so down and depressed  but the idea that she would have yoga in the middle of her day helped her so much. Another student shared with me that her workplace she has been going through so much stress and pressure; she has lost a number of staff and the workload has increased onto her.  Yet the weekly meditation has helped her to focus on staying present.  Lets not focus on what was or what will be.  “This too shall pass.”

While saying goodbye to some I’ve also had some return as well into my life.  One student used to see me at a studio that closed earlier this year.  She tried other studios close to her but found me at another location.  She surprised me with her feedback because I didn’t get the sense she liked my class.  She was always quick to tell me that she just wants the exercise.  Never wants more than an hour.  “I wish you would have us hold plank pose longer”.  “Less meditation please”.  But instead she found that she likes originality more and said that my Sunday class is her gift to herself.

I’m sure I wasn’t able to help everyone I met and I’m sure I’m not everyones’ cup of tea but my intension was just to let the yoga or meditation do its thing.  I’m just a guide and definitely not taking credit for the results but if I can hold that space and help one person find their internal healing nature – then I’m quite happy.

I’m excited to see where 2017 takes me.  I’ve learned that just when I start to worry about my schedule it opens another avenue for me so I toss it up as I’m waiting for God to lead me. Especially with a few open times I have in 2017.  Not worried though – so far it has taken me on an fun ride.  I do hope to travel more and teach and maybe even organize a small retreat.  Lets see what happens.  Just tossing this out into the universe.

May you have a wonderful holiday, new year and I’ll hope our paths cross in the future!  Jai!

Doctors Orders


So in the past couple of weeks I’ve had many new students come to yoga and meditation and they explained their anxiety, depression and stress.  They told me that their Doctor suggested yoga or meditation.  I was so happy to hear this of course. They also said their doctors tried giving them some techniques in these practices to do at home or suggested  phone apps to use.  Instead the student decided to do some research and ended up there with me.

Although I’m happy that they ended up in the right style and form to help their medical issues I worry that so much of the medical field still has so much to learn about what they are suggesting.  Simply saying “Go to Yoga or Meditation” is too vague.  I wouldn’t suggest an ear doctor to someone with a heart condition. Also I worry that those doctors suggesting these practices are teaching techniques to their patients and I wonder if they have been trained in them and even practice them themselves.

I really wish more doctors would network and get to know the alternative compliment to medicine more and see it beyond just the physical but as another method that helps the emotional and mental sheaths of the healing process. I think we would all be helping the patients more if we worked together vs individually on our own.

I’m so glad that the young students I spoke too trusted their instincts enough to keep searching and found their answers. I’m also glad their doctors could suggest something beyond the regular answer of prescriptions.  Just like a patient who tries self-diagnosis by going to the internet, the same applies to suggesting that as an answer with other healing methods.  Sometimes we need someone who is specialized, educated and licensed in an area.

Meanwhile I will continue to work on breaking down this barrier that keeps us all separated from different areas of healing practices.

Why stillness?


So in the past week alone I have taught a couple of young ladies how to meditate along with teaching them yoga.  One was a young 21 year old who has just started coming to yoga about a month ago.  She came to yoga nidra the other night and as we were leaving she left the studio and said “have these pictures always been here?”  I smiled Yes they have.  That is the practice.  The stillness has a profound impact on our awareness.  We improve our awareness and with that our senses are clearer.  So seeing, smelling, hearing and feeling improve.  So in one class she was seeing things she had walked by without any thought so many times before.  Then she shared with me that during the meditation where I had her imagine a flower she saw a caterpillar on her flower. She said then it changed into a butterfly and flew away.  Being still we can tap into other parts of our mind that we weren’t paying attention too.  I love that she was so aware of the experience and shared it with me.  I know she is dealing with a lot in her home life and the gentle yoga and nidra are helping her to find places of stillness.

For me that is just what meditation has done for me.  It has allowed me to stop doing what human nature often does, which is blame, avoid, deny or push away.  Instead I have learned to pause the conversation or thought and turn towards the experience.  As if you were heading into it and saying “come on – I am not afraid to see you”.  By being with the here and now we learn that it won’t destroy us and it will move on and change.

Another woman is at a drug/alcohol rehab center and I’ve been working with her for the past month in yoga classes.  This morning though we did a bit of seated but slow moving meditation. She often tries so hard in class and I’ve seen a big improvement in her.  She allowed herself to make mistakes and play today.  She explained to me after class that she lost more weight which has her so worried because she is dealing with an eating disorder and therefore dealing with this frustration.  Then she said that even though I didn’t mention it, while we were meditating the vision of a willow tree came into her mind.  She said the willow tree bends and allows itself to go with the wind but always comes back to the middle.  Again I smiled and she remembered the yoga lesson of tree I taught her before.  Not a perfect tree – but one that changes.  So she said all day today she was going to remind herself about the willow tree and stop being so focused on what she isn’t.

Embracing who we are right now, just as we are, imperfections and all, is the practice.  Instead of focusing on being someone else or a different or better version of ourselves, the practice embraces that we are already there.  We are already so many wonderful things if we just stopped long enough to be still and see it.   Also we have an innate healing if we let ourselves let go of resisting the change.


Still under the Glass Ceiling – Grief After the 2016 Elections


Yesterday was the 2016 Presidential Election. I was so excited to witness history and the first woman voted as President.  I was particularly happy that for many we didn’t just vote for her because she was a woman.  I read my own research, compared what each candidate has dedicated their life too and thought others saw past the marketing to see the core of a persons character.   But I was wrong. I came home after a long day of working and found myself shocked.  I let out a big “WTF!” and my dogs ran and hid under the couch.  Then I became silent. I couldn’t talk for hours.  Then around 1am I just gave myself permission to stop justifying and get down to the core of what I was feeling.  Then the tears came.

This is grief for many.  This is what it is and feels like.  The shock and disappointment.  There have been many comments out there trying to logically discuss what happened, why and how to move past it.  Some messages directly to me to say it “isn’t a big deal” or others feel this way too.  No doubt, but maybe you are missing how to deal with grief in a healthy way.  All the logical words don’t help.  All the comparisons or hearing your story may be nice but still doesn’t help.  This is just something we have to let ourselves feel and experience.  There is a time for healing and if you don’t do it, you bottle it up and hold it for later to explode.  There are many layers and emotions involved.

So please stop telling me how to feel or why I should move on.  I’ll do so when I am ready and for now I am hurt, sad and mad.  I have a right to feel this way.  Instead just listen and be silent.  (Did you know the same letters are used in listen as in silent?)  If you really want to help – just hold that space for me and maybe give me a hug.  Nothing else is needed.

Amazingly enough at the Democratic area last night if Hillary had won they had her on a stage built with a glass ceiling.  I would say we are still far from breaking past that ceiling and for that I’m sad for ALL women in this country.



“Oh no not I; I will survive”


For 25 years I worked in corporate offices in Washington, DC.  Long hours of eating lunch at my desk, late hours and constant deadlines.  Bosses who wanted to know that they saw you at your desk from morning till night; seen but not heard.

Then I started watching those around me who were coming in early but hanging out at other desks to talk for a couple hours, then go grab a coffee next door and then around mid-day get some work done.  Then in the afternoon they would find another place to hang out where the boss couldn’t see them and work the football pool.  Then maybe at the end the day do some internet searches and social posts.

If you have ever seen the movie “Office Space” the reason it holds up, is that it touches the truth.  There is a part where the lead actor explains his day doing about an hour of “actual work.”

When I started a regular yoga practice in the early 2000’s I worked all day and even missed lunch just so I could get out to an evening of yoga class.  Rushing in traffic to just get 75 minutes to myself.   I knew I needed it both physically and mentally.  Yet leaving the office to help my mind and body  wasn’t something that bosses viewed positively.  In fact they thought the person working late was working harder. Corporate America still has a way to go at understanding how to quantify the value of someones work.  Is it the quality or quality?  Also if someone left for a happy hour event that was viewed as networking so that kind of event was viewed as acceptable to leave for at the end of the day.

I wish I could say it has changed but so many I teach yoga or mediation today are dealing with the same struggles.  Additionally they know that their bosses need the practice just as much…if not more.

Years of my struggles has taught me this much:  Don’t tell them you are leaving for a wellness practice.  Don’t save a space on your work calendar that says “yoga”.

Nope just find yourself walking out the door and tell them you are going to a “professional development meeting” instead!

“Go on now go…walk out the door” They will survive and by the way….so will you.

“…Did you think I’d lay down and die?
Oh no not I, I will survive
Oh as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
And I’ve got all my love to give
I’ll survive
I will survive
Hey hey”   –Diana Ross “I will Survive”

Breathe in the air; don’t be afraid to care


I was driving to Yogaville last week for a workshop and it is about a three hour drive south from my home outside of Washington, DC. Leaving my area I started to see the transition as very large Trump signs were in many of the yards.  Most of the yards were large country estates, plantations, wineries and horse breading homes.  I started wondering about those that live there and what makes them so afraid and worried; as Trumps main message is based on “Make America Great Again”.   From the looks of things though, without judging, these people didn’t appear to have a worry; from what I could see they were doing quite well.

So often we forget that money alone can’t bring us peace.  Once we have money we worry about loosing it.  “First world problems” make us forget that it could so easily be worse and that peace and happiness has to be a choice you make.  There are those in third world countries with so little who are extremely happy individuals.

Learning to pause more helps us filter our first commentary and reaction.  In my case it helps to just stop,  look around and see how wonderful things are. Be grateful.  I don’t have to wait for someone to offer me this- I can be the one to make the world a peaceful and loving place with my actions, words and deeds.

No doubt this is difficult because of the world we live in; social media, news, radios, electronics with us each moment of the day to let us know immediately what is happening.  Therefore we have to be more selective in how much we take in and how often we log “on”.   For example,  I often drive without the radio on or I listen to calm music.  Because I can see  what happens if overstimulated from sound;  tension increases in my body when I’m in traffic and I find myself making very quick and silly reactions – “What a stupid idiot- can’t you see the light is green!”  Oh wait…. deep breath.

Going away on retreat was amazing.  If you have never done this I suggest it.  Even for a sort weekend.  If it isn’t something you can afford find a way even on your off time at home to find a way to get out of routine. Get around people who are “like minded” and be around loving presence to help your body, mind and spirit.  It doesn’t mean we have to ignore what is happening in the world but we also have to find ways to turn off the negativity; listening only to that isn’t healthy either.  In fact it isn’t balanced at all.

Sure, we wish others would learn to filter their thoughts before they spoke and said stupid things.  Imagine if Trump and Billy Bush had just paused before they talked and thought about what they were saying.   More importantly if they thought about why they felt they had to talk that way?  Grabbing someones private parts is not cute, funny or kind.  i.e. “Maybe I can stop before I speak” to see that deep down I’m seeking approval by having to hurt or put someone else down.   Pause there and see another persons side and practice using the brain past the ego.  As you do this more it will be quite natural.   I call it brain exercise – like physical muscle exercise you have to work it out and practice.

Still I can’t control or wish that everyone was doing this; all I can control is my own action.  Meditation is the way for me to practice, build and grow the development of my mind.  I had a student this morning who told me at the beginning of yoga class that he doesn’t meditate.  Yet after the class he was sharing with me that he liked a point I made; that we can each find a way to just stop and listen around us.  That may be 2 minutes in bed or sitting in the car to pause before I go into work, or sitting outside and taking in nature.  He said he has learned to take the headphones off and just take a walk around his neighborhood.  I smiled and told him “that is great! BTW, that is Meditation.”     So even when we react with “I don’t” or “I can’t” I can learn to hear that comment and see that I’m more than that.  Put in more Maybe’s in my life instead of so much certainty.

Like I mentioned earlier though choices are what we have.   I have found places when I do go on-line to read positive news articles.   So where do you get the news of good activity in your life?  Is there any way that you can help someone or your community? Although you disagree with someone’s politics can you hold back on name calling to see that they too are more than that?   That pause to filter out our comments and reactions so we can stop thinking that we are all so different and see our similarities instead.

Just a thought.

What do you do?


I traveled recently to the mid-west with my husband for his 30th high school reunion; meeting many new and amazing people. Having all the polite conversations for days; What do you do? Where do you live? What have you been up too? Any kids? Family still here in the area?

I found myself anticipating just when my husband would tell them that I’m a yoga teacher. I could feel myself tense up and realize that the next response is usually “I need to exercise more” or “I just can’t calm my mind to do yoga; its not for me”.  I just smiled and didn’t respond. How can I explain the uniqueness and magic of the practice in a loud and crowded room?  Inside I was wishing that instead of us labeling ourselves we could really go into who we are vs. what we do for a living.

I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m sure that there are many this happens too in many professions. In Washington DC it is quite normal to have the first question out of our mouth be “What do you do?”  As if we need to qualify if the person we are about to talk too is worth our time.  You say who you are by the kind of work you do and then the normal response from many is to equate by association with your experience. Instead of responding by asking more about that persons reason for doing what they do or why they enjoy what they are doing, we immediately turn back to ourselves.  Our egos take over and suddenly we are there boosting up our careers or jobs for the approval of others.

It reminded me of something Yoga Master Teacher Max Strom once said. He once said in a workshop I took that he was tired to traveling and telling a stranger on his flight that he was a yoga teacher. You have to overcome the obstacles and stereotypes. So instead he would tell them that he makes people feel good with their bodies and minds by teaching them to breath better. I admit that when I was a recruiter I did the same thing. If I told people I was a recruiter they would often say “oh a headhunter”. I would joke back – “sure but make no mistake, I want the entire body”. But I learned how to describe what I do first vs the title of what my role is to avoid being shut down by others.  If people get to know the person first they often can move past their habits and have a new or different experience.

I think I may have to do this more because Yoga Teacher is too generic as there are so many styles and kinds of yoga here in the West. I’m not a therapist by license but I know that what I’m doing is not simply exercise focused. For me the physical fitness is just a by-product of something much deeper.

I read a quote from Sarah Powers (A Founder of Yin Yoga) who said “My style is a cross pollination of Buddhism and Psychology which I have come to call Insight Yoga”. I think this is the closest to describing my style which is to combine mindfulness and awareness into the yoga. Breath is far more important to me than asana.  Each moment being reminded to bring awareness into now and our breath is just one tool that helps us do this. I also love talking about human nature and how our brain works so people can learn and possibly form some new habits.

The trip traveling across the country was a quiet time for me – as I was in the car 13 hours with my husband and two dogs – I found myself just enjoying the ride, looking out the window to see the farms and fields, and not being on-line. I found myself meditating on the next steps I want to take in my Teacher Training. What ways do I want to help others in my career?  I’ve been working with many injuries, rehabs and body types especially over the past year that are different for me and really have me grateful to teach yoga outside of just the studios and gyms.

Of course we all need a time out from our daily routine but it is good to return and get back to my routine. I’m still unsure of routes to take. Time and Cost are the biggest issue now that I earn less income as a teacher. I’d love to pursue Yoga Therapy but that is a $13k expense for almost 5 years. Next is learning to teach Military Vets. Also specializing more with Yin Yoga – as I would love to be trained by Sarah Powers after reading so much about her. I will continue to meditate on this and see where it takes me. That is something I love doing and when I can let go of what I want and see where it takes me I’m never disappointed.  More to come…

Labor Day week 2016


I’ll admit it… August was a busy month for me.  I found myself subbing for many and some emergencies.  So I overdid it a bit.  I quickly saw that I would be busy every day in the month so didn’t do much else to maintain my health.  I taught in some new places and instead of worrying about what I had to do all day I just focused on now.  Just focus on the person there.

I think when you first start teaching you have a lot to learn so the first thing you do is quote what others have told you.  Something happens though along the way that lets you sprout out on your own.  The past year especially teaching full time I found my own voice – as they call it.  I can’t recall each sequence or what I said – I just let it rise and then let it go. I trust that when I speak from my heart it will come back with something helpful and useful to the person I’m teaching.

This past week I found several students express that there is something in the environment in my classes that makes them return.  That isn’t just me alone but the credit to all there.  I encourage everyone to greet each other, say “hi” and make eye contact which is a big deal in a busy city like DC.  But this is important to share because I think even as teachers we can go about our day, busy in our own thoughts and we need to step aside, show up early, plan and make a space that has a feeling and environment that is safe, peaceful and comfortable for those we teach.   We need to stick around after to be there for those we teach as well.  I love coming 10 to 15 min early – talk to the front desk, get to know students, take a tempter of the energy coming into class.  I love talking after to see how each student is feeling – even if it is just a smile.   I may have a plan of what I want to teach before I get there but that may go out the window depending on who is there and the energy.

September changes for my schedule but I have some new classes in meditation and I’m excited to be more regular with my schedule again.  I have some workshops too so I plan to use my downtime from subbing to plan for upcoming events.   Fall is coming and I’m getting ready with new Vata sequences and Mindfulness focus.

Enjoy your week and if you want to reply to me directly or comment feel free. I do read and respond.

May you find peace in your day.

Can you feel it?


I teach some faculty at Georgetown University Yoga and the other day we were leaving the class together and walking through the campus.  There was a lot of activity going on as students are about to start their new season of classes.   I asked the faculty earlier in yoga class if they had felt the change in the season today?  Not just the busy campus but that you could sense the beginning of Fall and change in the air.  They looked at me like I was crazy.  “Its still hot out – feels like summer to me”.

As we left together and walked though the campus I asked them to smell the air.  “Do you smell that?”  We stopped and looked at some trees.  The leaves are starting to change color and dry for Fall.  The sun seems to be setting sooner today.  By pausing and stopping to notice we could feel change happening. Often though we are too busy to stop and feel it.

When you can feel an experience though it takes you away from the busy thinking mind and lets us just be in that moment.  Not avoiding but just let ourselves be a witness to it.  We improve our ability to be aware more and with that our senses are able to communicate to our mind/brain past the reptilian response that we live in; I call it brain exercise.   If you don’t use it you loose it.  You loose the ability in the brain function. Which I see in many in little ways – forgetting which side is their left or right.

Beyond the asana that I taught the faculty that day, I was so glad that we had that walk in campus together to improve our awareness and feel that moment.  Was amazing!

Healing of the Practice


I’ve long understood the healing power of Yoga and Meditation. I don’t feel I have to understand why so much as I just know it just goes beyond the physical body.  It can go past emotions and possibilities.  Although I do not teach therapy yoga classes it isn’t uncommon to have those with injuries come to class.  Someone told them to check out Yoga – friends, doctors, an article they read.  Most times they come by accident to the right kind or style of class.  Most times they don’t though – they have some deal or coupon or they went to the one just down the street from them.  Yoga has many styles and it is just important to know this.  Its also important to do your own research on who you are learning from.  Not just in yoga but everything.  You should look at bios and learn more about their background.  I do this myself when I’m choosing a new doctor.  You read reviews, comments and understand their speciality.

In the past week alone I have had a number of women share with me that they are recovering from reconstruction surgery in their chest from breast cancer.  Right away they are aware of the fact that lifting the arms is not something they can do right away.  There is a tightness they are dealing with physically.  A number were used to being so active and this has made them make some big changes in their life.  Many are therefore dealing with the emotional as well as physical changes; scars that are beyond what can be seen.

One student shared with me that she has gone through so much this year. Divorce, a new job and now just weeks after reconstruction she is has started coming back to yoga but decided to come to gentle yoga.  We have talked a number of times now and the healing of restoring herself is just as important as the physical practice.  One night I asked her what she was in need of in her practice and we went over the physical areas she quickly mentioned; all the “I can’t do this” and “this is tight”.   I listened but then guided her though the practice that would show her all she can do.  We ended it with some guided meditation and stillness for about 10 minutes.  At the end of class she said that I somehow gave her more of the grounding she needed more than anything.  Fortunately she is really aware of this and isn’t fighting “NOW” and this is going to help her heal very well.   She is going to check out restorative classes as well which I know will help her.

When big change happens it is quite hard not to fight it or resist.  It is only natural to hold and with that our body responds to this stress.  Although natural this response over long periods of time isn’t going to help us.  The practice of moving mindfully or sitting still in yoga trains and teaches us to be aware of the times we grasp and with that pause.  With this we may be able to have a different experience in it; let go of the grip.  So with Gentle Yoga we hold poses longer, move slower and all of this doesn’t mean it’s easier.  It brings you into the thoughts more to observe.   We stand, balance, improve strength and expansion in some tight areas to be a witness to that moment.  So we can learn to see the resistance and with that seeing we may be able to let that be.  The body, mind and spirit can do the magic from there.

Also recently I also know a student who has been on depression mediation for years and with her doctor she is coming off the medication.  She is learning to be with her feelings and reactions instead of suppressing or avoiding.   She felt that she was ready and that unfortunately the medical area just didn’t have a plan or way to help her come off the drug come off safely.  So she came to yoga this past month and has shared that beyond the careful instruction from the teachers she is learning from, that she also loves the community too.   This can make all the difference in our healing. It is so important to understand that who we are with and around in our life makes our life better or worse.  We take in our community and if it is loving, supportive and kind we will respond to that and heal.  So I love that she came to the right place and so glad she found what she needs to heal. I saw her last night and asked how she was feeling.  She said “so so”.  I greeted that with “that is ok”.  It is ok to just feel so, so.  She smiled and we talked about her laughing in her practice which I loved watching.  We went to tree pose at the wall and she immediately gave out a big grunt.  “I hate this pose. Paige my balance isn’t good.”  Ok – take a breath.  I always advise that with balance it isn’t about being perfect.  Enjoy your imperfections. ” Fall out and laugh at yourself.  It takes more strength and courage to fall and get back up again.”  We have to fall out of balance to enjoy the days we are in balance.  Also stop taking it all so serious – It’s just YOGA! Fun. Remember Fun?   Some days are meant to be just ok.  No need to push or suppress the feelings away.   Say the “OMG’s”, feel it and watch it move on.  Because it will.

Being with our day to day moments in a loving and caring way.  That includes those injuries and life’s changes.  That is why I’m proud to be teaching full time.  Just so glad that each class I teach presents me with many who are dealing with something I may not know about or be aware of. It goes beyond exercise.   I’m there with the intension of holding that space for them.

Just my thoughts of my journey this week.   More to come…


You say its your birthday!


So here is the thing. I started this blog years ago and my mission was to track my yoga journey.  I simply wanted to share my story and if along the way that helped others that was great.  Finding deep ways to express stories though takes time and I feel at the same time that I don’t have write long dramatic stories.  I want to look back and capture my journey.  So I’m going to start with shorter stories that capture what is going on in my life as a yoga and meditation teacher.  After all I feel that there are so many blessings in the small everyday that can be captured.

For example I’ve been reflecting on the past year.  I started out teaching all over the DC metro area and many styles.  This summer though things have become much more regular.  I love staying put and getting to know those I’m teaching more.  DC can be such an ever changing city and people come and go often.

There are many amazing students but let me start by mentioning one that is on my mind right now.  Heather.   Her neighbor and friend Nancy told her to come not just to yoga but to see me.  She came but was worried because she can’t easily get up and down.  I set up chairs for her and in a short time she didn’t require the help.  Her journey has been amazing and she is becoming much more aware.  Even in the past week alone she has stopped asking me if this was “right”.  She is learning to feel what is right for her and trust herself.  Heather has shared parts of her life and journey including the loss of her husband with me.  We share a common love for our four legged friends (dogs).  Each week now she brings me peaches from the farmers market and it is a great gift to allow someone to give and to accept it with love.  We walked to our cars the other day and she told me her daughter is coming into town and she wants her to meet me.  So I’m honored and excited for that to happen soon.

So sometimes the journey goes full circle.  We give and without even asking it comes back to you.  In watching her I too have learned so much.  We laugh and enjoy the journey as it is now.  Not worried about the future.  Now is enough.

Today I turn 47 and I am so excited about it.  More than I could have imagined.  All the good and bad in my life got me here and I’m proud to say that today I’m better than I have ever been.  I’m glad for those I know in my life, I feel strong and healthy.  I love my family and friends – who are forever in my heart.

Integrity – to affect those positively


“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively. “Bob Marley


I tried writing my blog in June and kept struggling. I would write several drafts but in my goal to share I found myself at the same time not trying hurt anyone as well. So I hit delete on many drafts. I found myself struggling and resisting.

So I woke up this morning from a post from a well respected teacher who asked the question “what is integrity to you?” Which had me thinking of a way to say what I was looking to say without hurting and yet follow my instincts.

I like this question because I hear the words and immediately want to explain what it is expected from others and their integrity. Integrity being that place where our beliefs and actions meet.  Yet it also applies to our own integrity. Which brings me to my own actions. How do we know just when to share and inform vs simple reaction and wanting to lash out?

When I started learning about yoga a long time ago, I learned about the 8 Limbs. The first two are rules for living and rules for life (Yamas and Niyamas). They were quite natural though for me because you find them to be basic instructions that are taught in many other areas; from the “Golden Rule” to the Ten Commandments. I was aware of the acts; be kind, truthful, honest and avoid jealousy or envy.

I grew up Episcopalian and observed many rules in the Church. I was very involved in the Church; was in choir, was an alter girl and attended many youth group events. I went to Church summer camps and once a month my sister and I would meet up at a Church in DC for local teen support groups to talk and meditate (even if that wasn’t what they called it – that is what we did). My Church was quite aware of my abusive alcoholic home. Just like the police that often visited us though, the Priests would come to talk to my Mom but there wasn’t much to be done but leave me “with honor your parents”. In my mid-teenage years I had my first boyfriend. He was quiet popular in school and the Church. We dated for about a month and often times made out in his car behind the Church parking lot. One month was all it took for me to feel uncomfortable though as he started pressuring me to have sex. I wasn’t ready and wasn’t looking to please him or others so I ended our relationship. I never shared the truth why I ended it to him or others; I just didn’t want to hurt anyone. Instead I found myself outcast from my teen groups at Church; nobody could understand why you leave the popular guy. I wasn’t interested in gossip though so I left that Church and years later found myself involved with a Methodist Church but experienced problems there. Between ministers informing me that my Father who died didn’t go to heaven because he hadn’t accepted Jesus, to watching those who were gay being counseled into changing, to being told I couldn’t perform certain service roles in the Church because I was a woman. I was being told I couldn’t be a greeter or carry the cross but I could help pass out donuts and coffee. Something seemed wrong with this.

None of this seemed right so I spent years exploring other religions and found myself studying Buddhism. I wouldn’t say I’m Buddhist but I found many parts to this practice that did more than just tell me do this and don’t do that. To this day I still question when I’m simply told what to do; I don’t like it, I resist and ask Why? As a teacher I like suggesting and exploring possibilities because often as humans we act so certain but everything is changing so even as teacher I don’t have to know everything – I can just suggest. So I found answers that offered other ways or solutions. For example, I can forgive but also not stay around unhealthy environments. Something I just wasn’t hearing in other areas or practices. Not so much avoidance or detatchment but to understand that each of us is responsible and can change our culture or environment.

So years later I find myself knowing about the Yamas and Niyamas in Yoga and finding hypocrisy even in the yoga world. From big stories of respected Guru’s who are found doing inappropriate things, to business studio owners lying or stealing, to yoga teachers who act out of jealousy; all defending their actions to preserve themselves or their livelihoods.

Each time this happens I am left questioning; do I give up, accept that it was ok or find another solution? I feel that for a long time I’ve gone from one area to the next; bounced around hoping to find a place that finally practices what they preach. It is time for me to stop and find the middle way that I’ve learned from my lessons from the Buddha. That it is ok to fall off balance. The practice isn’t staying balanced but noticing when I’m off and come back. So it is ok to experience hurt.  Not to worry so much about ever being hurt again. I can take a look at that experience, learn from it but there is no way to avoid it entirely. All I can do is see where I can make changes and be responsible for my action.

So I don’t have to leave or abandon my Yoga or my beliefs. I also don’t have to worry if others follow or believe in my way.  Many times I have found myself just trusting.  In the case of that first boyfriend it took years but I had one girlfriend who shared with me that I was so smart to leave him when I did and she was sorry for her actions.  You don’t always get this but without attaching to the outcome, I just have to trust myself and my own path.  I just have to find myself practicing the rules or steps, get up each day and start over again. Own my integrity is all I have to focus on.

As I learn to stop and pause I can also see so many other sides to experiences – yes even the bad ones. For example if I wasn’t hurt by these people in this latest event, I wouldn’t have found the routes I have today. I’m teaching in places today I wouldn’t have found. Also others were hurt, not just me, and we’ve been able to connect more with each other and share. I was so glad that I got to know one of them before she moved out of the area. Before she left we sat and had lunch and I thought – “wow – if this hadn’t happened I wonder if we would have had this amazing moment?”

So in learning to let go of this hurt. I am not forgetting but forgiving the acts from these people so I can find peace. I question their integrity because they aren’t practicing what they preach and I can see their unhappiness and the harm it is causing to their own health. All I can do is send them best wishes and hope they learn and make changes because they can’t be healthy or happy until they do.

Grief and Loss – ways to heal


Two weeks ago I was laying in bed, reading my last messages of the day and saw a message up on Facebook that my friend Rob’s wife posted. I had missed earlier messages from weeks back and Amy, Rob’s wife, wrote that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer and not doing well. My heart started racing fast and tears started down my face. I wrote her directly and found out more but with each answer I started realizing that this was worse than I had originally thought. My husband got home and saw me sitting on the stairs, shocked, and I told him I couldn’t even speak the words; my throat was so tight and my eyes just flooded with tears.

I just knew we didn’t have a lot of time and wanted to see him fast. I laid in my bed I tried to think about how I could see him the next day. “I have a full day of classes to teach” I thought. Maybe I can break away for 30 minutes here or there. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew that my heart was really hurting and it wasn’t fair to even teach classes.

By 1am I was writing the places I teach at and asking their forgiveness for the last minute cancelation. The next day I was prepared to see the awful truth in the hospital and I’ll spare you the details but cancer is quite ugly and painful. I spent hours with him, his Wife and Mom. As I entered the room to see him, another High School friend was there and that made me so happy. I hadn’t seen his Mom in years so it was great to be together again even under these conditions. Rob was in a lot of pain and was so tired. At one point he held his arm above his head because lifting it helped his pain; I know this helps as it helps me with Migraines so I understood. I didn’t want him to have to struggle to hold his arm up so I just held his arm up for him. He managed to sleep and it made me feel good to hear him sleep that deep even if just for a few minutes.

Rob was so drugged and didn’t talk much but when he did, he did know who was with him. He talked about wanting to be someplace quiet and out of the hospital away from the noise. So Amy was talking to the Hospice about getting him there. In the meantime I was able to show Rob the photo of us taken back in High School; it was always a favorite picture that we both loved and he gave me a smile and thumbs up when I showed it to him.

There are many stories I hold near and dear to my heart about him; over 30 years knowing someone that is bound to happen. I’m not denying we had gaps of time not seeing each other but we always managed to come back and in doing so it was as if those gaps didn’t exist. When you have a friend like that in your life it is like returning to home.

The day after I visited him in the hospital I went to a gentle yoga and Nidra class for myself. Fortunately as I’ve practiced yoga more I’ve found ways to heal myself that don’t require substances. Gentle Yoga, Meditation and Nidra are my tools. For those that don’t know what ‘Nidra’ is, it is a helpful way to be guided through different tools of mindfulness. It isn’t about poses like yoga is; in fact the only “pose” is Shivasana the entire time. However you explore deeper elements physically and mentally of awareness.

For me on this day after seeing Rob I was dealing with mass experiences. Sadness or course. I knew that Rob would be passing soon and I’d be loosing a friend. Worry: that this was happening to him – “he is way too young; 48 is way too young.” Concern: What about his young girls? What about his wife? His Mom – nobody should have to bury their kid. Anger: Why him? This isn’t fair! Why him over others who are so hurtful or abusive? Joy: that I even knew him and got to have time with him in this life. Fear: that everything is temporary and we will all die. Disgust: that I just had that thought – “Duh” said Captain obvious. Then back to the circle of feelings again – repeat.

Needless to say our thoughts and emotions naturally work this way. They would work this way without a practice but the mindfulness helps me to be a witness to them and maybe build more compassion towards my thoughts. For example when Disgust comes in and sends me thoughts of guilt or shame, I can see that reaction and tell myself “you know the feeling you had about dying is something we all feel and although we know it, it doesn’t take away the pain. You have every right for this feeling”. We can be less about the rational thoughts or first reactions and more about the entire experience. So the practice starts to rewire our thoughts and emotions.  It can happen in the every day places too; like what is that noise outside my window?  Why does my shoulder hurt so much?  What should I eat for lunch today?

Days after seeing him, I continued to spend time seeing the day to day lessons of what was going on right now. I needed more quiet time; turning the radio off in the car as I drove. I needed foods that would heal and get more sleep. I found ways to write out what was happening – like this article. I also found ways to be out in nature and walks with my dogs.

Sadly one week after I saw Rob in the hospital he past away at the Hospice in the middle of the night. He was able to be in a quiet place and be around his family. Less than 3 weeks ago he was diagnosed and his last post on social media he wrote that the pain was so bad – “Does this go away” Unfortunately the sad truth is “yes” but not the way any of us had hoped for.

RIP Rob – you will be forever in my heart.


"Hey Now"


Earlier this week the comedian and actor Garry Shandling past away. Best known for his  “Larry Sanders Show” (HBO) and there is a scene where he is talking to his side-kick Hank and asking him about his phrase “Hey now” and what it means. He asks him if he would stop saying it because it makes people uncomfortable and Hank is hurt because to him it is his genuine way of greeting and starting the show.

I say this because the other day I was teaching yoga at a studio and a young woman was leaving class and pulled me aside. She couldn’t stop praising how great she felt; really enjoyed the class. The only thing was, as she explained to me, she is a Christian and is offended by the use of Namaste. “Would you promise not to use that word again in your class?” I smiled, paused and tried to understand where she was coming from. I did explain the word and it’s meaning and intension. I also tried explaining that it wasn’t a religious term; that all humans have ways of greeting or saying good-bye. I also explained that she certainly didn’t have to use the word or she could choose other phrase like “Peace be with you”.

Additionally in the same week I was subbing a yoga class at a corporate space that has a security check-in. The guards are so nice, warm and friendly, and I can tell that my friend Michael, who has been teaching there a long time, has made a big impact on them, even though they may never practice asana. They are so friendly and ask me if I know where he is; as they know about his travels. I go through the security bag check and they bow and say “Namaste”. I smile and ask if they know the meaning. They agree that they don’t but it is so sweet that they offer the greeting anyway.

All these stories happened in the past week and had me thinking about them together. Often as a teacher I close with Namaste, Jai Bhagwan and “The light in me see’s the light in you”. I thought many knew the meanings but even my husband asked me what Namaste meant. Therefore we may use words without understanding and I thought maybe I’m not doing a good job of educating others with the words or phrases.

So without assuming, let me explain the meaning (coming from research and various sources). First off, Jai Bhagwan a Hindi word roughly translated to “The Spirit of me honors the spirit in you”. (Yes there are other translations of course but you get the idea).  Namaste, which is the Sanskrit language is roughly translated to the same meaning.  (Often with translations there aren’t exact English matches and therefore a  word, in Sanskrit especially, can start to take on various meanings).  Today though you may be greeted by someone who bows to you and says ‘Namaste’. Depending on the timing, they are greeting you with a general acknowledgement and either a welcome or good-bye.  So no matter which translation you believe in, it is still a greeting meant to be kind and welcoming.  Sure, just like yoga, it started in the East but has gone past that to being a word used all around the world.

There are many ways in the world to communicate this as well; Salaam, Shalom, Mahalo, Danke, Arigato, Gracias, Merci, Ciao, Howdy, Yo or Hey Now! My point is that the welcome message or communication, no matter the language, isn’t about religion. Yet I can’t help and think on the heals of Easter that we are still missing the messages of those we claim to be following; Jesus, Buddha, Allah etc.

Right now I’m reading the book by Malala Yousafzai. If you don’t know her story you have probably heard her messages. She is a young girl who was shot by the Taliban and continues to stand up for girls and their right to education. Even today there are parts of the world that ban a persons right to walk in the street, listen to music, cut their hair or drive a car.

Now I’m not saying that what I’ve experienced is even close to the extreme of what Malala went through, but my point is that it always starts in such small ways. It is happening within the political areas right now as we talk about banning refugees, putting up walls and deporting people. ‘Be afraid of someone different’ and the Politicians and/or Press knows to play on this fear to get votes, views, revenue and attention. You may think I’m exaggerating but earlier this week a woman was in a DC Public Library and was asked by a security guard to remove her head wrap because it offended him.

Malala is known for saying that through education we can end terrorism. However that word “terrorism” may feel so distant and far away from us in the US – yet in reality it can be right here in your own backyard. It is anyplace where in our heart we are scared of anything that we don’t understand and want to stomp or push it away.

I know so many who understand my point but I feel if we keep quiet we aren’t speaking out against the injustices happening. History has taught us that at some point we had a choice and yet out of fear many stay silent, hide and give in that bit with hope it goes away. It often doesn’t go away and grows. Soon you forget just how it started. It starts with the fear of something and yet if you stopped, studied and learned more about them or the situation  you would see the similarities instead of the differences.  Just like our phrases to greet each other or say goodnight.


“Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” – Anne Frank

Loss in my Family Feb 15, 2016


Weeks ago my husband woke me to some sad news. My niece had been killed in a car crash. It is a moment we know we will all have at sometime in our life; sad and unexpected news. I jumped out of bed and immediately called out my brothers name. I felt an immediate ache in my heart and ran down to my phone.

When I called him at 1:30am we talked or I should say I listened. I knew that no words could help the grief. Many times people feel awkward as they don’t know what to say.  Fact is sometimes just being there is enough.  What I knew right away was I had to hold that space for him. I just had to let him express all his feelings.  Yoga and Meditation for me has made me so much more aware of this. I allow myself to pause more, be less reactive and feel the here and now moment more. My practice has really taught me to see reality for each moment and even when it ugly, see it and don’t push it away. Be with it because everything passes and changes.

I allowed myself weeks of just feeling what I was feeling as well. Often with grief unfortunately  we don’t just get to feel it.  There are plans, responsibilities, calls and paperwork.  I knew this and also knew the sooner we prioritized what really had to be done, the rest can happen later.

I didn’t share my loss the week that it happened with my yoga classes. I couldn’t contain myself and would start crying. So I chose to stop, be with my family, and feel the waves of emotions. So much more than just one feeling – waves of shock, anger, blame, disbelief, sadness and hurt. I found over time though that it helps me to express and also share the lessons with those I teach. All of us have had to deal with grief in our life and what I tend to find so amazing, no matter if we are dealing with a celebration or loss, is the beautiful way it binds and brings so many of us together. You really find out what people are made of when they pull together and help. The loss also makes us shift our appreciation and maybe shift our focus from the less important concerns to those we know are valuable.

I’m still dealing with the loss of her and what all this means to my young niece who lost her sister. I got to hold her during the ceremony and at 8 years old she doesn’t quite understand but she went through waves of crying to laughing, so I was glad to be there for her.   I have often said that dealing with a loss is that the pain doesn’t go away…you just learn to live with it. But it is so important to learn to feel and live with the moment to moment experience vs suppress and ignore it.

My thoughts go to my brother and the entire family that lost this beautiful young lady too soon. What was amazing was to see the impact she made as I saw a crowded space fill up with all those who came to celebrate her life. It really makes you wonder what your celebration of life would be like; would you have an impact like that others? What would others honor, miss and love about you?  After all it isn’t how long you live – but how you live that matters.


RIP Geneva Owens who died Feb 15, 2016 while driving home from work